Trying something new here: a daily snapshot of the pennant races. It may be a bad time to do such a thing given that, you know, we have one little pennant race of note and it tends to get less interesting every time the Angels get close, but I think it’s OK. Sort of like how a recession is often thought of as a good time to start a business because things can only improve, this may be the best time to launch a daily playoff race roundup too. Or not, but we can’t know until we try, right?
The spread: Yankees ahead of Boston by two and a half games,
Yankees Red Sox leading the Rays in the Wild Card by seven.
The skinny: Yankees won yesterday, Boston lost. Each team has some bipolar thing going on with its pitching. One day you see good things, the next day they’re giving up double digits. Since both the Yankees and the Sox have a playoff spot more or less locked up, finding some kind of consistency and groove is the name of the game in September. Oh, and staying healthy. Josh Beckett’s ankle sprain is obvious concern for the Sox.
The spread: Tigers seven and a half ahead of Cleveland, eight ahead of Chicago.
The skinny: Detroit has taken care of each pretender/contender in the division quite handily when meeting them face-to-face, and this week’s series against Cleveland seems no different. Everyone’s talking about Justin Verlander, but then Doug Fister strikes out 13 guys yesterday. This can be overstated because writers are out trolling for storylines right now, but the Tigers are a pretty dangerous-looking team.
The spread: Rangers ahead of the Angels by two and a half.
The skinny: Wow, a bona fide pennant race! Rangers lost yesterday, Angles won. Worth noting that the Rangers appear to have the easier schedule the rest of the way by virtue of the Angels having to play a series against the Yankees. But let’s hope this stays close through the end of the season, because we have a Texas-Anaheim series from September 26-28th that sure would be awesome if it was meaningful. We’re owed that, right?
The spread: Phillies eight and a half up on the Braves, Braves leading the Giants in the Wild Card by eight and a half themselves.
The skinny: It’s not the biggest lead by number of games — that goes to the Brewers in the Central — but it is the biggest gulf in team quality between first and second.
The spread: Brewers up by ten and a half over St. Louis.
The skinny: The actual race is over, but the race to see who will be the last person in the media to stop referring to the Cardinals as a contender is still hot and heavy. Really, I can’t recall a team with a double-digit deficit with under 30 games to play who so frequently has their “playoff chances” referred to in game stories and the like. Let it go, folks, let it go.
The spread: Diamondbacks seven up on the Giants
The skinny: The Giants have the worst run-differential of any second place team in baseball. Also the worst offense. You can’t gain ground when your only viable strategy is to wait for the other team to totally and utterly crater.